Planning a Walking and Cycling Network in Pôlva, Estonia
Mauri Myllylä, M.Sc, Finnish Road Enterprise, FI; Nina Karasmaa, D.Sc, Helsinki University of Technology, FI
This paper presents a pilot project concerning walk and bicycle network planning in Polva, Estonia. As a result of the project, the design manual of planning light traffic in municipalities was published.
In 2001 the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications launched a three-year project called -Jaloin / by Foot for promoting light traffic in Finland. The project primarily functioned on the national level, with the cooperation and involvement of several model municipalities. Among those was a municipal model for sustainable traffic in three municipalities and an urban district. The project was closed in 2004, however its achievements are useful even today.
On visiting Finland in 2002, the technical services board of the city of Põlva decided to introduce similar municipal models to traffic planning in Estonia. Early in 2005 the city of Põlva, together with the Municipality of Põlva, began to draw a scheme for light traffic network in the region. The project was based on Finland?s expertise and experience of light traffic planning. Estonian specialists were aided by a group of three Finnish experts from Helsinki University of Technology and Finnish Road Enterprise, who provided Finnish expertise, evaluated plans, and introduced Estonians to traffic networks in Finland.
The project involved seminars, group work, and bicycle tours to the planning area. The opening seminar was held in Põlva on April 2004. Another meeting took place in Kerava on August 2005. The meeting was organised by City of Kerava in cooperation with the project experts from the University of Technology and Finnish Road Enterprise. Light traffic networks in the cities of Kerava and Helsinki were presented, with various light traffic projects and their outcome in model municipalities.
Press representatives were invited to take part in the bicycle tour in Kerava, to interview participants in the program and observe the event. Estonians were mostly interested in separating pedestrian and bicycle traffic, reducing motor traffic, organising bicycle parking and the surface materials used. Another increasingly important issue in both Estonia and Finland is rollerblading and other such traffic modes. It was pointed out in Kerava that the maintenance of light traffic network after its construction is another major challenge.
Planning the light traffic network in Põlva region is an exemplary project in Estonia. The project was financed by the EU, and the first stage of the project was reported to be completed by the end of 2005. The main objective of the planning was a region-wide pedestrian and bicycle network. The pedestrian and bicycle network was planned based on various forms of traffic and the needs of traffic groups, and further classified based on the priority of its parts. As the EU project of Põlva is meant to serve as a model for other cities and municipalities in Estonia, a manual called "Planning light traffic in Municipalities" has been compiled to present Finland?s expertise and experiences. No other similar manuals to our knowledge have been issued in other European countries.
The Finnish-Estonian cooperation was successful and highly beneficial. The positive attitude of the city and municipality of Põlva towards promoting pedestrian and bicycle traffic needs to be praised, alongside the commitment of the municipal administration to improving the conditions of those forms of traffic by planning a network over the entire region. Steps have been taken to implement the plan. In Finland and in other countries, the main focus is on improving the conditions for motor traffic, and light traffic is prone to be neglected, isolated, or deprived of finances and decision-making on the grounds of prioritising major motor transport projects. Finland has a longer tradition of light traffic planning, however not many region-wide light traffic network plans have been implemented. In Estonia the work has had to be started from scratch.
Association for European Transport